Whether you want to fall asleep to the sound of waves or pop outside for a pre-breakfast swim, we pick the best hotels across the British Isles with rooms beside the sea.
1. Cary Arms & Spa, Devon
Between thickly wooded headlands and above Babbacombe Bay, the Cary Arms has an unrivalled waterfront position. This old inn has been gracefully extended over the years to provide accommodation to suit all beachgoers. Here, the crash of waves will soothe you to sleep, especially after a day spent exploring neighbouring coves along the South West Coast Path. Choose from rooms with sea-facing terraces, traditional cottages that accept children and dogs, or the Beach Huts, where couples can fling open bifold doors and sunbathe beside the sea. The modern, cedar-clad Beach Suites are particularly luxurious, with spacious decking. Soothe tired feet in the spa’s hydrotherapy pool or enjoy leisurely dining at the restaurant, which celebrates ingredients plucked fresh from the bay.
Doubles from £205, → caryarms.co.uk
2. St Brides Spa Hotel, Wales
Most of the 34, generously sized bedrooms at this contemporary hotel overlook Saundersfoot’s Blue Flag beach and harbour. Bag an Ocean Garden Room, if you can, as these have beach views, super-king Hypnos beds and separate living areas. The spa’s infinity hydrotherapy pool is the ideal place for contemplating the ebb and flow of the tides, with views for miles across the sand beneath. There is also a thermal suite to relax in, comprising various showers and saunas. Suitably refreshed, you can saunter afterwards to the Cliff Restaurant for a locally caught seafood dinner beside floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the bay. Alternatively, try the afternoon tea that is served on the outdoor terrace. Two-bedroom apartments are a good choice for families, and glorious walks are available along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Doubles from £200, → stbridesspahotel.com
3. Carbis Bay, Cornwall
The beach at Carbis Bay, near St Ives, is a sheltered stretch of creamy sand owned by the family run hotel behind it. With a glamorous Bamford spa, four restaurants and lodges that housed world leaders during the G7, the hotel attracts repeat visitors and those seeking a luxurious coastal escape. Beach Lodges are positioned right above the sand, with four or five bedrooms, upmarket kitchens and hot tubs overlooking the waves. Beach Suites are a similarly high standard. The spa’s heated outdoor pool has panoramic views and is somewhere to bathe while spotting seals and dolphins, or watching paddleboarders out in the bay.
Doubles from £250, → carbisbayhotel.co.uk
4. Seaham Hall, Durham
This Georgian manor house lies on Durham’s heritage coast, a place for bracing walks along the cliffs. Beaches –some shiny with smooth, glass pebbles that hint at the coast’s industrial past – are a short stroll away, beyond 37 acres of parkland. The five-star hotel has just 21 suites and offers a raft of services, so guests feel truly pampered. Bungalow Suites have their own hot tubs with sea views, while the Garden Suite has a wood-fired hot tub. The Ada Lovelace Suite, meanwhile, features twin slipper baths, perfect for couples who want to enjoy a soak while gazing across the grounds. The spa is huge, with an indoor pool, a hammam, a sauna, and a heated therapy pool outside in a zen garden.
Doubles from £295, → seaham-hall.co.uk
5. The Red Lion at Clovelly, Devon
You will find The Red Lion on the harbour’s edge at Clovelly (our front cover photo of this issue), a village hemmed in by green headlands, where fishermans’ cottages sit side by side along a donkeys-only, cobbled lane that rolls down to the sea.
The village was recorded in the Domesday Book and visitors have to pay to enter it. However, hotel guests have the harbour to themselves (and locals) at the end of the day, and nothing but a soundtrack of waves to help them sleep.
The Red Lion’s 19 bedrooms have subtle nautical themes and each is within sight of the sea. The most luxurious bedrooms are the six housed in the Sail Loft, next door. Entrance to The Clovelly Court Gardens is also free for guests.
Doubles from £185 a night, → redlion-clovelly.co.uk
6. St Brelade’s Bay Hotel, Jersey
With a wide, golden-sand beach stretching before it, it’s no wonder that the St Brelade’s Bay Hotel has been a favourite with Jersey holidaymakers for generations. Guests can watch waves wash the popular bay from a multitude of angles, including from the five acres of gardens. There are 77 bedrooms, each elegantly dressed, including family rooms and sea-view rooms. The Bay Suite has sunloungers above the beach, while solo travellers will delight in the fact that even some single rooms have sea-facing balconies. The health club is wrapped in glass and also overlooks the coast. For a post-workout pamper, the spa offers a heated indoor pool, steam room and treatments. Afternoon tea in the Bay Restaurant is a treat and a cafe terrace opens above the sparkling outdoor pool in summer.
Doubles from £125, → stbreladesbayhotel.com
7. The Nare, Cornwall
The coves of the lush Roseland Peninsula are easily reached from The Nare, a family run country house hotel sitting behind Carne’s swathe of golden sand. The hotel claims its Whittington Suites are some of the largest sea-view hotel suites in Britain. Each has a second bedroom that is also a dressing room, two bathrooms and a broad balcony or terrace facing the big blue. The hotel’s detached cottage, Lemoria, is similarly positioned to enjoy the splendid seascapes, as is the hotel’s outdoor pool, which is set on a garden patio above the beach. A hot tub faces the setting sun and the spa has a second pool, sauna and steam room inside. However, the highlight of any stay is likely to be a trip out on one of the hotel’s two boats.
Doubles from £396, → narehotel.co.uk
8. The Gallivant, East Sussex
Set back on a road behind Camber Sands, The Gallivant is a chic new beach property with a focus on wellness. An adults-only hotel, it has an eco garden inspired by the dunes out front, with succulents, pines and drought-tolerant shrubs. Daily yoga classes help guests find inner calm, and wellness workshops range from peloton bike sessions to sound baths and wild swimming. Spa treatments are available in a beach cabin [pictured], which makes up for its size with indulgent Bamford products. The best of the 20 bedrooms have oak panelling, such as the Baby Hampton room, private terraces and/or rolltop baths. More than 90 percent of the produce used in the restaurant is local (within 20 miles) and there is an extensive English wine list. Best of all, guests can order hot toddies and fish and chips to eat on the beach.
Doubles from £165, → thegallivant.co.uk
9. Knockinaam Lodge, Scotland
For utter seclusion by the Irish sea, 19th century Knockinaam Lodge has a shingle beach out front and is backed by a hilly ridge. The cove is private, so guests in the former hunting lodge’s 10 bedrooms will have it all to themselves, along with 30 acres of landscaped grounds. The comfortable, classic interiors feature wood panelling, period-style beds and muted tartans. The Bay room is a highlight, featuring a Victorian Tester bed, a window seat and sea views. A luxurious, self-catered cottage sits on the grounds too. Local producers supply the majority of what is cooked up in the sustainably minded restaurant, where the tasting menu might include Drummore lobster or scallops from Skye. In summer, there is the option to enjoy a BBQ dinner out on the lodge’s alfresco patio, close to the waves.
Doubles from £380, → knockinaamlodge.com
10. Artist Residence, Brighton
Bohemian hotel group Artist Residence opened its first hotel in 2008 in a neglected Brighton B&B that needed redecorating. Artists were given free board while they helped revive the place and the result was a quirky townhouse with reclaimed furniture and views across Regency Square to the sea. Of the 23 bedrooms, many afford views towards the ruined West Pier. Three stylish apartments are set in the adjacent building, one with its own wrought-iron balcony (though the best room in the house has a similarly gorgeous balcony too). A witty selection of art includes limited-edition prints from David Shrigley and neon signage from Brighton artist Andy Doig. The Clubhouse is a neighbourhood hangout and cafe-bar, with sofas in House of Hackney velvet and seafront views through a large bay window.
Doubles from £95, → artistresidence.co.uk
Text by Natalie Paris